The Challenger SRT Super Stock: Muscular Charm

Today’s Dodge Challenger has long been known as the most honest interpretation of a modern muscle car. Ford’s Mustang ostensibly had the segment to itself when Dodge introduced the retro-inspired machine in 2008 (the Chevrolet Camaro was discontinued in 2002 and wouldn’t return until 2010), by which time Ford was beginning to shift the focus of the Mustang from its roots. from the muscle car to that of a leaner, high-revving sports coupe.

Dodge took a different approach to reviving the Challenger nameplate, shortening and widening the existing full-size LX sedan architecture to give the car the correct physical proportions and a significantly larger footprint. The strategy added to the Challenger’s extra weight over its rivals, negatively impacting its performance potential, but it also gave it more usable storage and interior space, as well as greater overall presence – factors that helped make the Challenger the bestseller in its segment. to be last year for the first time in history.

However, it was not an overnight sensation. Shortly after its debut, the Challenger faced stiff competition from both Ford and Chevrolet as they released increasingly high-performing versions of the Mustang and Camaro. But over time, the Dodge engineers refined the Challenger formula, and in 2018 they had a legitimate world beater with the Challenger SRT Demon.

Billed as a street drag car, the 840 horsepower Demon was the fastest production car ever built, capable of hitting 60 mph in 2.3 seconds en route to a National Hot Rod Association certified quarter-mile time of 9.65 seconds. And if you got the launch just right, the Demon would even pop a wheelie.

But production of the Demon was limited to just 3,300 cars for the United States and Canada for a single model year, and it wasn’t long before Dodge was filling the order books. While the Demon’s engine and other powertrain components lived on in slightly detuned form in the more street-friendly 797-horsepower Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, many potential Demon customers were still left looking for a more purpose-built street-legal drag car to make their own.

But now, after a grace period for Demon owners (along with COVID-related production delays), Dodge has unleashed the Challenger SRT Super Stock. Not bound by production limits, the Super Stock basically serves as a middle ground between the all-rounder Hellcat Redeye and the outrageous, limited-edition Demon, and it comes with a range of performance hardware aimed at getting this Challenger across the drag strip faster than the car. in the other lane. But Dodge also insists that the Super Stock is not a “diet demon.” We decided to spend a week with the 807 horsepower brute to find out exactly what the new package is all about.

Meet the Super Stock

Nicknamed from a drag racing class designed for highly modified production cars, the Super Stock package offers a variety of upgrades beyond the standard Challenger SRT Hellcat. It starts with the large fender flares that are part of the Widebody package, a treatment that increases the overall width of the car by three and a half inches to accommodate the 315mm wide Nitto NT05R radial tires fitted on all four corners. are equipped.

Those tires are wrapped around the same 18×11-inch wheels that the Demon rolled around on, rather than the 20-inch wheels that are normally standard on Hellcat models. While the smaller wheel diameter allows for more tire sidewall in the same amount of space, providing a mechanical advantage during drag race launches, the large six-piston Brembo calipers with 15.7-inch rotors that replace the Challenger SRT’s stock front braking system Hellcat shapes, don’t fit behind the smaller wheels. To make it all work, the Dodge engineers had to replace the smaller Brembo system used on the Demon with 14.2-inch discs and four-piston calipers.

The Super Stock also rides a set of uniquely tuned, electronically controlled Bilstein dampers that help the suspension make better use of the sticky tires, but it doesn’t feature the Demon’s other unique suspension components, such as the drag-tuned springs. and light weight sway bars. Though the Demon was civilized on the street, suspension tuning prioritized weight transfer to the rear wheels for more consistent drag launches, and it resulted in less body control during other maneuvers, such as cornering and braking.

The Super Stock, meanwhile, gets a more conventional suspension tune that’s more in line with the stock Hellcat Redeye, and it gives the car a more buttoned-up feel overall.

Under the hood is a modified version of the supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 from the Hellcat Redeye. Bradley Iger

But as with all high-performance Challengers, under the hood is the real star of the show. Here’s a modified version of the Hellcat Redeye’s supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8. The engine normally puts out 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque, but the Super Stock gets a unique software calibration that raises the redline from 6,300 rpm to 6,400 rpm and boosts peak horsepower to a healthy 807 horsepower. Also up for the ride is the SRT Power Chiller that debuted on the Demon, a system that diverts refrigerant from the air conditioning system to cool the air intake temperatures for better track performance. All that growl is channeled to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission that offers different shift patterns and overall behavior based on the selected driving mode.

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The Super Stock also comes with a lot of fast technology to put all that power to good use. While it avoids the Demon’s finicky Trans Brake feature (allowing the engine to build torque while remaining stationary for more powerful launches by locking the output shaft), it does come up with some other tricks aimed at keeping the car running efficiently. driving puts the muscle on the pavement. As well as a standard Launch Control system that keeps the engine speed at a certain level until you step on the brake pedal to the side, the Super Stock also has Launch Assist, a system designed to detect and eliminate vibrations in the rear suspension as the car accelerates. .

Also featured is Torque Reserve, which allows the supercharger engine to build boost pressure while the car is stationary, and a Race Cooldown mode designed to minimize the effects of supercharger heat by running the engine fans and coolant pump of the low-temperature circuit. to hold after the engine is turned off. Also helping in the pursuit of fast quarter-mile times is the drag-focused Track driving mode which, among other tweaks, adjusts the compression and rebound properties of the shocks to provide better traction when starting the car from a standstill.

Press the big red button

Our loaded tester vehicle ($97,711 with destination surcharge) was equipped with several optional packages that bring suede-like Alcantara and real carbon fiber into the interior, but the cabin is otherwise largely standard Challenger fare. The good news is that the Super Stock is just as comfortable for long stints behind the wheel as any SRT Challenger we’ve come across since 2015, and there’s still an acre of head and legroom, even for taller passengers. And if this particular instance were fitted with a rear seat, it would probably be just as usable as the rear seat in other Challenger models we’ve also tested. (Like the Demon, the Super Stock’s rear seats can be removed for a dollar to save some weight for better performance. A cargo net is installed in place if desired.)

A week behind the wheel of the most powerful muscle car money can buy
No wireless Apple CarPlay here. Bradley Iger

While the Challenger’s infotainment looks a little dated by today’s standards, it has had a number of hardware and software updates since the 8.4-inch Uconnect 4 system debuted in 2015. As a result, it still offers an intuitive menu layout and quick response to user input, and the SRT dashboard works well as a centralized pathway to all of the car’s various performance parameters, driving modes, and telemetry data. But it’s still a generation behind the latest Uconnect systems in vehicles like the Dodge Durango and Ram 1500, and it’s a shame the Challenger still doesn’t have modern features like wireless Apple CarPlay.

However, many problems seem to disappear when you press the big red ignition button. A cold start brings the supercharged Hemi V8 to life with a typical muscle car roar, but once everything gets up to operating temperature, the active exhaust system settles down to rumble that’s a little more neighborhood-friendly.

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If you can keep your foot out of it, driving the Super Stock around town in the standard Auto driving mode can be a surprisingly calm experience. The suspension isn’t quite as compliant as the Demon’s super-soft spring rates, but ride quality is arguably better than a stock Hellcat Redeye thanks to the extra sidewall provided by those big trailing radials. Meanwhile, the eight-speed automatic works silently in the background to ensure it’s in the most efficient gear when the car is in standard driving mode.

Give it some gas though and this muscle car reveals its true nature. An intentional thrust from the loud pedal delivers sonic ferocity from the V8 and its twin-screw fan, and despite the ultra-wide drag rubber, the Super Stock will light up the tires at highway speeds before the electronics kick in to pick it all up again.

On a drag strip surface with the right technique, the Super Stock is capable of hitting 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 3.25 seconds en route to a quarter mile time of 10.5 seconds, and it won’t stop until it hits its mark. electronic hits-limited top speed of 168 mph. (A standard Challenger Hellcat Redeye blasts over 200 mph before deflating, but the drag radial tire design limits terminal speed to 168 mph.)

However, replicating those gear numbers isn’t a simple point-and-shoot affair. Even if launch control is set conservatively for the conditions, drag will still go up in smoke if the road surface or other situational conditions aren’t quite to the Super Stock’s liking, so taking advantage of its full potential tends to be a little to try and wrong. But if you do it right, this big coupe can rival some of the fastest performance cars on the market today. It’s also surprisingly good cornering thanks to the abundance of grip on tap, but the degraded brakes keep spirited runs through the canyons quite short.

As with most modern Challengers, the Super Stock is really in its element when you’re cruising or racing down the highway. While the pack puts a stronger focus on drag strip performance, the Super Stock is still more of an everyday hot rod than a purpose-built drag strip terror. And while the platform’s age has been showing for a while, it still delivers muscular charm by the bucketful.

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